[HOME]  [Strays] Ann WINGATE by Jon McKenzie

What Happened to Ann WINGATE?

Further background information: 'Anna Wingate' - Governess page

by Jon C. McKenzie

My third great grandfather, Thomas CONSITT, stated in his notes written early in the 19th century that his wife, Mary WARNER CLIFFORD, was born August 15th 1780 at Chudleigh, Devon. She was the only daughter of the Honorable Hugh Edward Henry CLIFFORD, the eldest son of Hugh CLIFFORD, the 4th Lord CLIFFORD of Chudleigh. My correspondence in 1983 with the then Lord CLIFFORD revealed that “Oliver in his ‘CLIFFORDiana’ quoted the then Chaplin to Ugbrooke, the Reverend Joseph REEVE, ‘15 August 1780 baptizame Mariam filiam Anna WINGATE in Diserto Dartevi'. This was the fruit of an illicit connexion with this Honourable Gent and was baptized at Doddiscombleigh. The mother was introduced to the CLIFFORD family by her cousin, the butler, ATKINSON, and was Governess to the children in the nursery.”Women, especially servants, were often prey to sexual exploitation in the 18th Century.

Since the Reverend REEVE recorded Anna WINGATE’s name in Latin, her given name was probably Ann. But, what happened to Ann WINGATE after Mary was born? At the age of 29 she seems to have disappeared. Did she die in childbirth, or did she marry someone and take his name? There are no records of either occurrence. Or was she simply dismissed from her position for giving birth to a bastard child, as was usually the case in the 18th Century? Servant girls who had a bastard were liable to have their name besmirched and hopes of a respectable marriage dashed, for once dismissed as an outcast, such a girl’s life was easily reduced to that of a harlot. It was taken for granted that women on the staff were fair game for philanderers; the gentlemen were thought gallants as long as they made arrangements for the resulting bastard. Both Thomas CONSITT and Lord CLIFFORD agree that young Mary was properly educated and provided for by the CLIFFORD family until she subsequently married Thomas CONSITT.

It is not positively known where Ann WINGATE was born, but having the position of governess for the CLIFFORD family indicates that she had a good education. London would have had excellent facilities for educating a young woman to become a governess. There were several schools for girls that taught reading, writing, French, drawing, religion and domestic subjects. An Ann WINGATE was born in London on December 3, 1751 and christened on January 26, 1752 in St. Michael Queenhithe. Queenhithe Ward was located in the City of London, along the River Thames just upstream from the present Southwark Bridge. Ann was the daughter of Joseph WINGATE and Hanah, possibly ATKINSON. There is no information available about Joseph WINGATE’s financial status, but he must have been a man of some means to support his daughter’s education. He might have been one of the surgeons named WINGATE who lived in Queenhithe at the time. Joseph and Hanah had another daughter, Susannah, born about 18 months after Ann.

It has been determined that the full name of Lord CLIFFORD’s butler was Charles ATKINSON. Coincidentally, a Charles ATKINSON was born on November 4, 1752, the son of John and Hannah ATKINSON, and christened on November 20, 1752 in Old Church, Saint Pancras, London, not far from Queenhithe. Charles’older sister was christened in St. Michael Queenhithe just a month before Anna WINGATE. That Charles ATKINSON could have been the cousin that helped Anna later. Since the CLIFFORDs lived in London at least in 1759 when their son Charles was born there, and possibly through 1768 while their home in Devon was being extensively remodeled, that would have facilitated WINGATE and ATKINSON contact with them.

My ancestor, Ann WINGATE, could, therefore, have been born in London in 1751. She would have had the opportunity for a good education there to prepare her for the duties of a governess. You could assume that she assumed her duties as governess for the CLIFFORDs at about age 25 in 1776. She would work in a household with Lord and Lady CLIFFORD and their six children living at home, including, three older children: Frances age 24, Anne age 22, and Hugh age 20, the heir to the title; and three younger children: Robert age 9, Charlotte age 3, and Thomas age 2. Ann’s educational efforts would have been concentrated on the three younger children. Another son, Charles age 17 was away in Catholic schools in Belgium. Because the CLIFFORDs were a staunch Catholic family and England restricted Catholics, Charles had to be educated abroad, traveling under an assumed name.

Ugbrooke House, where the CLIFFORDs lived, was located about 200 miles west of London near the village of Chudleigh in the rolling hills on the east coast of Devon between Exeter and Torquay. It was a very large castle-like structure that dominated a wide shallow valley with a bank of lawn falling down northwest from its front to a slow-flowing stream. The house was remodeled between 1760 and 1768 by the eminent architect Robert Adam. One of its additions was a Catholic chapel because a free standing Catholic church was forbidden under the Penal Code. The house’s extensive grounds were landscaped in 1761 by the famous Capability Brown. As governess Ann would probably have lived in the house near the nursery.

In about December 1779 Ann became pregnant by Hugh Edward Henry CLIFFORD, Lord CLIFFORD’s eldest son. Ann’s pregnancy notwithstanding, Hugh married Apollonia LANGDALE, the youngest daughter of Marmaduke, 5th Lord LANGDALE on May 2, 1780 in Bath. After the wedding they left to travel in Europe. Ann delivered her baby, Mary WARNER, on August 15, 1780 at Chudleigh. There is no information on the origin of the surname, WARNER, given to Mary, which she subsequently used in her marriage record and in birth records of her children until at least 1814. There are detailed records of Mary’s subsequent life, but there is no further record of her mother, Ann. Young Mary remained at Chudleigh until five years old. During this time Lord CLIFFORD died and Mary’s father assumed the title as 5th Lord CLIFFORD in 1783 at the age of 27. He was dogged by ill health and roamed the continent with his wife in hope that someone could cure him.

In 1785, at the age of five, Mary was placed by her guardian, the Reverend Joseph REEVE, at a Catholic boarding school in Hammersmith near London, kept by Mrs. BARKER, who eventually moved to Phillimore Place, Kensington, London. Charles CLIFFORD, Mary’s uncle, was in London in 1786 when he married Eleanor Mary ARUNDELL, Countess of the Holy Roman Empire, but there is no record of any contact between him and young Mary WARNER. In 1790, at the age of ten, Mary left for the Augustine Convent at Bruges, Belgium, which was known for its superior mode of education, under the Reverend Mother, a lineal descendant from Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII. In 1793 Mary’s father died in Munich, Germany and his brother Charles CLIFFORD assumed the title as 6th Lord CLIFFORD.

In 1794 the French Revolution drove Mary’s community back to England where they settled at Hengrave Hall, the deserted mansion of Sir Thomas GAGE in Suffolk. There they remained until the conclusion of the wars. The guardian and friends of Mary were desirous she should become a Catholic nun, but not succeeding she was moved toYorkshire under the care of Mrs. LANGDALE of Houghton. Mrs. LANGDALE placed her with Miss GLEDHILL on a pension recommended by Dr. Gillow. Mrs. LANGDALE was related to Apollonia LANGDALE, the 5th Lady CLIFFORD of Chudleigh and wife of Mary’s father. Mary stayed with Miss GLEDHILL until she married Lieutenant Thomas CONSITT, RN in St. Helen Church, York, Yorkshire on March 9, 1802. On the marriage record Mary used the surname, WARNER. Thomas CONSITT was the son of Francis CONSITT and his wife, Eleanor, formerly Eleanor GLEDHILL of Wakefield, Yorkshire. It is possible that the Miss GLEDHILL with whom Mary stayed until she married was a sister of Eleanor GLEDHILL, her mother in law. After their marriage Thomas and Mary CONSITT moved north to County Durham where Thomas headed the Royal Navy’s Scottish Impress Service because an arm injured on board ship prevented his return to sea duty.

They lived in several places in County Durham for about 15 years, during which time they had 9 sons. When Mary was young her guardians must have explained her relationship to the CLIFFORD family, because the CONSITTs named their second son Charles CLIFFORD CONSITT, presumably after the 6th Lord CLIFFORD. They named their third son Francis Hugh CONSITT, presumably after Thomas CONSITT’s father, Francis, and Mary’s father, Hugh CLIFFORD. Finally in March of 1817 a daughter, Mary Ann, was born. Her name reflected her mother’s name and that of her maternal grandmother.

In 1817 Thomas accepted an offer of free land for service veterans who settled in Upper Canada. He took his family to London to await their passage to Canada. While awaiting passage one of their sons, age 10, died. They boarded the ship for their arduous two-month sea voyage in July. On the voyage another son, age 3, died. After docking in Quebec they had to travel a long distance by barge up the St. Lawrence River to Upper Canada. Then they traveled over 100 miles by wagon and on foot to settle near Perth. Settlement consisted of the back breaking clearing land for farming, planting and harvesting crops, and building a log cabin. It must have been a very difficult time for Thomas with his injured arm and for Mary with the responsibility for their many children, including a babe in arms. Fortunately they had several strong sons to help. While living on their farm Mary had two more children.

Disaster struck in the winter of 1823/1824 when Mary became quite ill and had to be taken to a hospital near Montreal. While there she gave birth to her second daughter in February 1824. Mary died in May 1824. She was only 44 years old. Two months later another son died, and the infant daughter died later the same year. At about that time Thomas gave up farming and returned to sea, most of his older sons already having decided on a career at sea. Finally in 1827 he returned to England with the three younger children. They stayed there until 1829 when they moved to Bruges, Belgium, returning to England after the children were grown. It is during this period that he started keeping his notes on family history in which he told Mary’s story and referring to her as Mary WARNER CLIFFORD. He died on November 11, 1852.

It is interesting to note that in Thomas CONSITT’s recording of his wife’s death someone deleted her maiden name and the name CLIFFORD was inserted in a different handwriting. Did she always use the name WARNER to hide her relationship to the CLIFFORD family and the circumstances of her birth? The obituary of Thomas’ youngest son, Edward, in 1887 falsely stated that his mother was from an old Northumberland family, indicating that the family probably wanted to continue keeping her background secret. Revealing the truth would have been an embarrassment to the CLIFFORDs, as well as to the memory of Edward, who had been a prestigious monsignor in the Catholic Church. Edward’s older brother, Augustine, was still alive, and he had Thomas CONSITT’s family notes describing the circumstances of Mary’s birth. In all the notes and newspaper articles about the CONSITTs there was never any indication of contact between the CONSITT family and Ann WINGATE. Mary’s only surviving daughter, Mary Ann, was probably told the story by her father because after she became a nun she established a home for servant girls “out of place”. That was presumably Ann’s situation. Ann’s cousin, Charles ATKINSON, butler at Ugbrooke House, must have continued in the good graces of the CLIFFORD family because he was retired on a pension from the family [Note 1]. But, there is no record of Ann WINGATE’s death or marriage. Since she gave birth to a bastard she undoubtedly lost her position in the CLIFFORD household and was put out onto the street with little hope of a respectable marriage. She was lost to history in 1780 at the age of 29.


CLIFFORD, Hugh, “The House of CLIFFORD”, Phillimore and Co. Ltd., Shopwyke Hall, Chichester, Sussex, 1987

CLIFFORD, Lord, “Letter dated 16th June 1983

CONSITT, Thomas, Personal notes “Death of a Sister of Mercy”, newspaper article, Liverpool, 1882

LDS Genealogical Library, Vital Records Registry

PORTER, Roy, “England in the 18th Century”, The Folio Society, London, 1998 “The Late Provost CONSITT”, newspaper article, Durham, 1887

NOTE (by Sandra)

  1. And in 1783, Charles Atkinson received an annuity of ten pounds in the fourth Lord Clifford's will.  See National Archives Transcript.
  2. I have added a few more bits and pieces on a second page here:  'Anna Wingate' - Governess